WASHINGTON – Destination DC, the official tourism agency for Washington, DC, is spicing up February with fresh date ideas and special offers designed to keep romance cooking inside the capital with the return of Date Nights DC. The month-long promotion is billed as a “28-Day Stimulus Plan for Love & Relationships,” designed to boost business for hotels, restaurants and attractions with date night deals and discounts while encouraging locals and visitors to rekindle their romances in the nation’s capital.
To announce the return of Date Nights DC, Destination DC got a helping hand from “Top Chef” alumna Carla Hall. Fresh from her victory on last night’s episode of “Top Chef All-Stars,” she was sworn in as the District’s new “Honorary Secretary of the Department of Love & Relationships” today at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Hotel by Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia Kwame R. Brown.
“Washington, DC is the city where I found love, and I fell in love with the food scene here, too,” said Hall, the ebullient chef and owner of Alchemy by Carla Hall. “I am excited to have this opportunity to encourage locals to get out and explore the city for themselves. When you spend time together, in a restaurant, in the kitchen or out in the world, you build stronger connections with each other.”
Destination DC introduced its Date Nights DC promotion last year, inspired by the Obamas and their well-publicized “Date Nights.” Despite record snowfalls, participating businesses enjoyed success. The Newseum welcomed more than 750 visitors participating in its program and nearly 200 couples booked “Love a Spy” packages at the International Spy Museum. “There is a clearly an appetite for date nights,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, President & CEO, Destination DC, “and we are excited to present an even larger menu for romance in 2011.”
The elements of the promotion are outlined on a newly-refreshed custom website, DateNightsDC.org. Featured components include:
Create-a-Date: A searchable database of 100-plus creative date ideas to help locals and visitors plan outings with a significant other, family, just the girls or guys. Organized by theme and neighborhoods, date planners will find LGBT-centered dates, activities for singletons, movie-themed dates and itineraries for politics buffs, food and wine lovers, and wild card suggestions for fans of “Glee,” Lady Gaga and more.
Date Night Deals: Nearly 50 events and offers from hotels, restaurants, theatres, tours and attractions for “date-friendly” experiences. The International Spy Museum and Zola restaurant have teamed up to offer a “Love a Spy” package including admission to the museum and its evening “Spy at Night” program, plus a dinner for two. At the luxe Fairmont Washington, D.C. Hotel, the “An Affair to Remember” package includes a $100 credit for “dinner in bed” and a DVD of the Cary Grant classic. The Newseum’s “Love Me Tender” promotion invites rock and roll fans to bring a friend to see the popular “Elvis” exhibition, thank you very much. Action-seekers can enjoy a discount on the ropes course at Terrapin Adventures or an evening with City Segway Tours.
Postings & Rankings: A place where couples who met, courted and married in DC can upload and share videos chronicling their relationships. The site also includes a list of DC’s 28 top romantic spots, one for each day of the 28-day promotion.
Date Concierge: Access to Destination DC’s team of hospitality experts who offer free assistance in booking and planning memorable dates.
The promotion also encourages date-planners to take advantage of special events and performances that are already on DC’s February calendar. Sample date itineraries are built around the Washington Auto Show (which also offers two-for-one admission on “Date Night,” February 2) and the highly-anticipated exhibition Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, which opens at the National Gallery of Art on February 20. Deals and discounts are offered by area performing arts venues, such as Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Signature Theatre and Dance Place.
To publicize Date Nights DC, Destination DC has launched a $200,000 media campaign targeting different regional residents and visitors in multiple ways. The campaign incorporates print, online, radio, transit and movie theater elements, as well as promotions and public relations initiatives. The ad messages are designed to appeal to working parents (and even the entire family), GLBT couples, young professionals, African-American audiences and regional residents utilizing major transit gateways, such as outlying Metro stations and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Messages will run in movie theaters from Baltimore to Richmond.
Destination DC will also work with the region’s top radio stations, WASH-FM and 99.5, to give listeners a chance to text to receive a “Date Night Deal of the Day.” Destination DC will also use its Facebook page and Twitter feed to release daily date ideas. Fans and followers will also be eligible to win prizes such as gift certificates and even airline tickets, provided by American Airlines.
Date Nights DC is designed to boost business in the District throughout the month of February, traditionally a slow month for the city’s hospitality industry. Explained Ferguson, “We know that many couples covet their limited time together and finding ways to make it memorable at a discount is exciting. We hope people learn to look forward to Date Nights DC the way they look forward to Restaurant Week.”